Is Congolese President's son paying for designer shopping sprees with country's oil money?
The son of the president of Republic of Congo appears to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of money that may derive from sales of state oil on lavish designer shopping sprees in Paris,
Marbella and Dubai, while Congo remains one of the poorest and most indebted countries in the world.
While 70% of Congolese citizens earn less than a dollar a day, in August 2006 alone, Denis Christel Sassou-Nguesso, son of Congo's President and head of Cotrade, the marketing branch of the state
oil company SNPC, spent $35,000 on purchases from designers such as Louis Vuitton and Roberto Cavalli.
The major problem facing Africa is corruption and control of resources. In the DRC, the military is stealing minerals to sell to Western companies.
At a remote mine in central DRC, workers with torches and pick axes hack at the ruddy earth. They are mining cassiterite, a mineral vital in the production of laptops and mobile phones. But dispersed
among the miners are Congolese Government troops -- in plain clothes for the camera -- literally forcing most workers to work at gunpoint. 'The soldiers always steal everything. They even come to
shoot people down the mineshafts,' complains Regina Maponda. Western greed for cassiterite is fuelling the boom -- at an airfield near the mine, soldiers jealously guard their loot as it makes it
way to Japan and the West. Conflict mining is a curse, and it is difficult to see what the G8 leaders can do.